Well, our clever friend Kirbert has been busy again. This time he wanted to do some experimentation on our favorite gouge, Staedtler. Being the curious sort that I am, I was very interested in sending him a couple of old gouges that were just rattling around in my tool box.
Staedtler sells sets of three carving tools, as you may know; a green (1v), a blue (2v) and the pink (5u). Kirbert suggested modifying the green tool to a reverse nib. The 1v typically has the sides of the V leading (as you cut) with the point of the V recessed a bit. Reversing would have the sides of the V angling towards you with the point of the V leading. Here is a pic of a standard, unmodified green 1v gouge:
And here is a pic of the modified pinched and reversed green 1v:
Kirbert also wanted to give the blue 2v a new look by attempting to make a 1v out of the 2v. Since I rarely use this tool (the V is much, much too big and clunky to actually use for any detail work), I sent it down to him to play with. Here is his modified 2v, now changed to a 1 v and sharpened:
I was excited to receive these re-vamped tools in the mail a couple of days ago. Kirbert was so fast! I was anxious to sit down and give them an earnest try. The next item on my carving to-do list was to work on some itty-bitty 1/2" stamps for an upcoming LTC project - they would be the perfect acid test for these new tools, demanding precision and small detail work.
Here's the results, all of which measure 1/2" square. (They are symbols found in the Star Wars universe...I know you're shocked!)
Royal Naboo and Jedi symbols
I absolutely love the reversed 1v - it totally rocks for small, intricate detail. I was able to get such control, much more so than with the needle or wire knife, no doubt. It is so, so sharp, too...from the first pass, this carver was oooo-ing and aaahhh-ing out loud. What you lose by changing the shape of the V in the way of the sides, you gain in control and a smaller cut.
The modified 2v, now a 1v, is much sharper, as well. I really like the sharpness of it, but when going back to more normal sized stamps with bigger areas to carve out, I reverted back to the standard 1v. It somehow had more control and something about the smoothness of the metal tip made a difference for me (perhaps it is a texture thing - the way it feels when you are removing the carved bits from the nib. The unmodified is much smoother, but this is probably just me being weird.)
So, the bottom line? I highly recommend giving Kirbert's reverse nib a try. It is definitely different from the Speedball reverse nib I had tried in the past. It is absolutely fabulous for small, intricate detail - at least in this carver's opinion.